Rep. Tom Trail, R-Moscow, will run for a Latah County commission seat rather than seek a ninth term in the Legislature, the Moscow-Pullman Daily News reports today; click below for a full report from Daily News reporter Brandon Macz.
Tom Trail running for county seat
By Brandon Macz, Moscow-Pullman Daily News, Moscow, Idaho (MCT)
Feb. 22—Moscow's Tom Trail will be changing his campaign signs this year from state representative to Latah County commissioner, the lawmaker announced Tuesday.
The moderate Republican has served in the Idaho Legislature for eight terms, but said political polarization and a desire to focus on the needs of his county and family prompted him to seek the District 1 commission seat.
“When you live four years of your life in Boise, my family has been wanting me to get back to Moscow and settle back … that's part of it,” said Trail. “There are a number of other legislators that are retiring that sort of feel the same way.”
In a news release, Trail points out a change in political cooperation in the Legislature since his first term and a breakdown of constructive dialogue.
“The Idaho Legislature mirrors what's happening in Washington (D.C.,) and that is, I think, an extreme polarization,” Trail said. “There are very few moderate Republicans left there in Boise in the Legislature.”
Both District 1 and 3 commission seats are open this year with Dave McGraw, another moderate Republican, making a bid for reelection in District 3.
In District 1, Commission Chairwoman Jennifer Barrett, a Democrat, said she will not run again — to focus on family.
“I've been a commissioner for six years. Before I started I didn't have any grandchildren,” she said. “Now we're expecting our fourth grandchild. … It's a family decision. I've gotten to do lots and lots of things, and family's always come first, and now it's time to decide that family comes first.”
Barrett declined to comment as to whether she felt Trail might be a good fit for her open seat.
“It's open and whoever wants to run for it, it's a great district to serve,” she said.
Trail said he thinks his knowledge of Latah County gained through a lifelong Moscow residency and his legislative experience will make him a good candidate for the Latah County Commission.
“Our commissioners have done a good job,” he said. “I think 16 years in Legislature, I will be able to use that to the advantage of the county in the constituency.”
Trail said his decision to run was delayed and predicated on the outcome of state legislative redistricting, which was only recently resolved following the appointment of two different commissions, an Idaho Supreme Court decision and final map approval.
Latah County will now join Benewah County in Legislative District 5, which would have had Trail, Rep. Shirley Ringo, D-Moscow, and Rep. Dick Harwood, R-St. Maries, fighting for two seats in the Legislature this year.
“The split up there is pretty much 50-50, Republican and Democrat,” said Trail of Benewah County. “It would have been an interesting challenge. I really would much prefer focusing on Latah County.”
He said his focus if elected will be working with the University of Idaho, business leaders and entrepreneurs to generate economic development and job growth.
Campaign financing will definitely be easier, said Trail, as he will no longer be seeking support across the state. His campaign spending averaged about $20,000 each election, he said.
“You rely on local folks to help you out and it's a lot less expensive to run for commissioner than state representative.”
Election filing begins Monday and ends on March 9. Trail said he plans to file earlier than later.
Brandon Macz can be reached at (208) 882-5561, ext. 238, or by email to email@example.com.
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